Winery Stop 4, Red Hill Estate

Red Hill Estate was established in 1989 with 46 acres of land and 23 acres under vine.  They have great views of the Mornington Peninsula, too.  We went through their tasting (note, we were splitting tasting after the first one, we were not crazy people, and even then small sips were being taken).


Vintage Brut (This magnificent sparkling wine is made from 52% Chardonnay, 41% Pinot Noir and 7% Pinot Meunier. Created using the traditional “Methode Champenoise”  system, this 2011 Vintage Brut exhibits a fine and persistent bead, a lively palate and a fresh acidity, which lingers harmoniously with the aged complexity.) – tiny apple flavor, young

Cool Climate Pinot Grigio (Displaying aromas of refreshing citrus and lime zest, some confectionery notes and a hint of musk on the nose, it is soft on the palate with freshly cut pears, some minerality and neat acidity back bone.) – pears, light flavor

Cool Climate Sauvignon Blanc (Flavours of green pea pods freshly picked from the garden flow into a herbacousness that keeps evolving into lime juice and Honeydew melon. Toward the end, and through the middle of all these flavours are tropical juices and passionfruit.) – huge nose, passion fruit

Cellar Door Release Chardonnay (On the nose there are pronounced aromas of citrus and caramelised pear, whilst on the palate it is beautiful fleshy with soft, crisp acids and delicately balanced flavours of baked fruits and pastry.) – butter and oak all the way home

Merricks Grove Chardonnay (With a fine, delicate bouquet of melon and toasty oak, this wine is an absolute delight; a clean minerality on the palate and complex layers of melon, peach and oak. A cool climate classic.) – not that exciting

Cellar Door Release Pinot Noir (Our 2014 Cellar Door Release Pinot Noir is a riot of mixed berries on the nose that work harmoniously with an underlying sprinkle of dusty oak. After an initial burst of juicy raspberry and fresh cherries on the palate, this superb wine finishes with a touch of spice that is both lingering, satisfying and strangely moreish.) – cool climate, earthy, some spices

Merricks Grove Pinot Noir (Made from 100% Mornington fruit, this immense Pinot Noir has lashings of raspberry and cherry compote on the nose whilst on the palate there is an abundance of soft, rich and comforting raspberry rhubarb that effortlessly mixes with a dusty oak finishing and gloriously fine tannins.) – fruitier than the prior pinot

Regional Release Heathcote Shiraz (The wine is deep purple in colour with aromas of dark cherry & raspberry and has subtle hints of spice & white pepper that lead to an intensely flavoured, well rounded (yet relatively soft) mouth feel of dark fruits, blackberries & oak influenced raspberries.) – Bring it home, awesome, pepper and berries

Regional Release Coonawara Cabernet Sauvignon (The wine displays rich and succulent blackcurrant and red berry characters that mix with a hint of cassis. On the palate the wine is enhanced by some subtle oak influence and finishes with smooth gentle tannins and a firm structure.) – thick, not great

Old Tawny (no winery description) – tastes like fruitcake



Winery Stop 3, Paringa Estate

Next we get heavenly views and amazing wines.  We visited Paringa Estate which is family run and opened in 1985.  We sipped some amazing stuff here.


2014 Estate Pinot Gris (The bouquet has lifted varietal fragrance of fresh cut pear and apple. The palate has fresh pear and citrus fruit flavours combined with lovely mid palate texture and balance, finishing crisp and dry) – smooth, fruity, crisp

2015 Estate Viognier (The bouquet of this wine has fragrant varietal aromas of apricot, citrus and spicy green pear. The palate has barrel ferment richness but still retains delicate apple, pear and cinnamon flavours with crisp acidity) – slight butter, apple and pear notes, would be perfect with lobster, side note

2015 Peninsula Chardonnay (The bouquet is floral and fruit driven with citrus and stone fruit aromas.  The palate has rich stone fruit flavours, good texture and a persistent long finish.  While this wine has been made for current drinking it will build further complexity over the next 3 to 6 years) – oak on end only

2015 Estate Chardonnay (The bouquet has a complex floral lift of citrus and stone fruit, with some secondary barrel ferment lees aromas. The palate has cool climate white fleshy stone fruits, citrus and savory nutty barrel ferment flavours. The wine has good palate weight and fine natural acid that leads to a long persistent finish.) – crisp, nutty (almond/walnut), almost no oak

2015 Peninsula Pinot Noir (The fruit for this wine was sourced from our three leased Red Hill Vineyards and a number of other high quality grower vineyards across the Mornington Peninsula. The warm finish to the growing season lead to a compact and busy harvest resulting in beautifully balanced, expressive wines.
Fruit was 100% de-stemmed and fermented in 2.5 tonne open fermenters. The fruit spent an average of 21 days in the fermenter on skins. Maturation took place over 11 months on lees in French oak barriques.) – AMAZING, dark cherry, tiny bit of chocolate/cocoa

2011 Estate Pinot Noir (Early disease pressure followed by cold and wet conditions during ripening meant fastidious vineyard management was pivotal in a successful 2011 vintage. With the Paringa vineyards in good health patience was then required as fruit maturity was reached up to four weeks later than average.
In the winery berries were de-stemmed (100%) and fermented in two-tonne open fermenters. Maturation took place over 11 months on lees in French Oak barrels (44% new))– earthy ‘brown’ tone because of the year

2012 Estate Pinot Noir (The Paringa team is confident the 2012 reds will be regarded amongst the Paringa greats. A hot weekend, then a week of solid rains in early March was followed by somewhat of an Indian summer. Pinot Noir yields in 2012 were down 20 – 30%, but resulted in great concentrated flavour & excellent overall quality.
In the winery berries were de-stemmed (100%) and fermented in two-tonne open fermenters. Maturation took place over 11 months on lees in French Oak barrels (50% new)) – fruity, more body

2014 Peninsula Shiraz (In the winery berries were de-stemmed and co-fermented with 5% Viognier in two-tonne open fermenters. Post fermentation, the wine maturation took place in seasoned French oak for 11 months before the wine was bottled) – AMAZING nose, white pepper, some black pepper, so good, so good, oh so good

2012 Estate Shiraz (The bouquet & palate has the Estate’s typical cool climate cracked black pepper / spice combined with blackberry and liquorice flavours and aromas. The firm fine grained tannins and acid provide excellent structure to the wine that will soften with bottle development. This is a wine that can be enjoyed young with food but will reward careful cellaring.) – Very nice


Yes, lots of wine.  I’m really not kidding when I ask these people to just pour me a little bit.  Now, this winery only sells from their winery.  You can’t find them in stores.  I couldn’t easily buy anything because this was day 2 of my 2.5 week trip to several cities (with about 4 more plane trips).  It also apparently it not available in the US.  Any wine distributors out there who are reading this…can you change this, please?




Winery Stop 1, Yabby Lake Vineyard

Sunny day, time to start the wine adventures in Mornington Peninsula.  The first stop was Yabby Lake Vineyard.  It opened in 1998 and they have 200 acres.  They use all their own grapes for their wines.  We had the opportunity to try many of their vinos that day, some from their Red Claw Collection, some from their Yabby Lake Collection.


2015 Red Claw Pinot Gris (A bright, refreshing style of pinot gris – bone dry and the perfect partner for fresh local seafood)  – very light

2015 Red Claw Chardonnay (Beautifully focused and fine, this is a lovely modern expression of Mornington Peninsula chardonnay) – light on the oak, nice chard

2015 Yabby Lake Pinot Gris (A fine, refreshing style of pinot gris with delicate aromas and beautiful natural acidity) – could use a bit more body, not much taste

2014 Yabby Lake Chardonnay (A terrific year for chardonnay. The wine shows great purity, beautiful natural acidity, line and length) – WOW, not too oaky at all

2014 Yabby Lake Pinot Noir (Incredibly perfumed, finely structured and silky pinot noir)  – earthy nose, tannic

2014 Yabby Lake Syrah (A perfumed and spicy Syrah, medium-bodied in style) – WOW, on the nose especially

2013 Heathcote Estate Shiraz  (One of Heathcote’s best known Shiraz producers, concentrated yet beautifully balanced and fine) – OK


So, of course we can’t get these in the US.  But if you’re visiting Australia or anywhere that has them, definitely give any of these wines a try.


SA Winery Visit #4 — Muratie

We were very fortunate on our winery tour because there were only 3 people in the group (vs up to 16).  Our guide was also amazing.  Based on the great blend of people, the guide made sure that we fit 4 wineries into the day and finished the outing with an amazing vineyard.  The close the tour, we visited Muratie in the Stellenbosch.



It’s one of the oldest estates in South Africa and that is evidenced by the amazing wine, stories and other things you see.


IMG_0509They have not cleaned spider webs off some things to maintain ambiance…nice.



At Muratie we were once again able to choose which wines we would like to sample, and shared amongst each other.

I started with the Melck’s Rose, which was made with Cab Franc.  Nice, crisp and refreshing.  And a steal at R45.



Next I went to their Laurens Campher (Blended White).  It’s 46% Chenin Blanc, 25% Sauvignon Blanc, 19% Verdolho, 10% Viognier.  Buttery was my take on it. R95.



Then I had a quick sip of their Lady Alice Methode Cap Classique.  Was this beer?  The reason I say that is that it tasty yeasty.  R120.


Ok, red time!!!  Started with the Melck’s Red, a 50/50 Shiraz/Cab blend.  Just a nice, easy dinner wine.  R50.




Moving down the line, next came the George Paul Canitz Pinot Noir.  It had a black pepper nose and for the taste — a bit of green pepper, chocolate and some berries.  Quite unique.  R165.



Then came Shiraz time, Ronnie Melck Shiraz to be exact, from the family selection.  NICE!!!!!!  Normally it’s not available for tasting but we lucked out.  Smoke, tobacco, smooth…very similar to a pinotage.  Very worthy of the price of R350.



To wrap up the tasting there was the fortified wine, Ben Prins Cape Vintage.  With 19.5% alcohol, it was a bit chewy with notes of chocolate and blackberry.  R170.


This winery was great to just look around and see fun parts of.








Amazing winery to wrap up an amazing day!  It’s tough to get these/their wine in the States but I am going to keep working on it to continue enjoying amazing vino.  Cheers!

SA Winery Visit #3 — Solms Delta

After the 2nd winery, we put the bikes away and took a long enough drive (as in too far to ride) to Solms Delta.





Here we started with their Vastrap, a white which is a blend of Chenin Blanc and Semillon.  It was a dry white, nothing to write home about.  R50.



Next we went to the Amalie, which is a blend of Viognier, Roussanne and Grenache.  Smells like chard, has some oak flavors, but I would characterize it as a ‘light’ chard.  R110.



Third one presented was the Lekkerwijn, which means ‘nice’ or ‘yummy’ wine.  It’s a blend of Mourvedre, Grenache Noir and Viognier and is a Rose.  It was sweet and not great.  R55.



Reds, finally reds!!!  Langarm, pronounced Long-arm, a blend of four varietals — Pinotage, Touriga Nacional, Shiraz and Mourvedre.  The nose had tobacco and was sweet.  The taste was light and peppery.  R55.



Next red was one I look for a lot and can be hard to find — sparkling Shiraz.  This one is their Cape Jazz Shiraz.  Subtle, fruity, per them. Light, refreshing, 9.9% alcohol.  Yes, oh yes.  I left with a bottle.  R580.



We then hit a fortified wine, the Gemoedsrus, made with a Shiraz grape.  The style ‘An entirely new concept in port-style wine; Shiraz desiccated on the vine, then fortified with Shiraz grappa.’  18.5% alcohol, NICE and SMOOTH.  R150.



Finally we sampled an experimental wine, Perry, a lightly sparkling pear fermented beverage, 6% ABV.  Crisp and refreshing.  The problem here is that you could not taste any alcohol so you could easily just be sitting outside enjoying this on a beautiful summer day and that bottle would be gone quickly…and you would be too…without realizing it.  R50.



Three down, and since we had such a small group, our guide made sure we hit one more winery before the day was done!


SA Winery Visit #2 — Franschhoek Cellar

To get to our 2nd winery, we only had to ride about 5K from the first.  Not too shabby.  Still very scenic!



This next winery we visited was Franschhoek Cellar.




For the tasting, we got to pick six to sample from the entire menu (versus being given specific wines).  That was great because between the entire three of us on the tour, we were able to taste almost everything!  And off we went.



Statue de Femme Sauvignon Blanc — In the top 10 last year.  Light and crisp.  Another typical SA bargain at R50.



La Cotte Mill Chenin Blanc — Tropical, pineapple taste.  R40!  Really, $4 for a bottle.  Love this place.  Note on the dates on the back labels, they write day/month, versus how we do month/day.


Club Hose Rose – a blend of Pinotage, Shiraz and Cab.  The best way I can describe it would be powdery rose petals.  GREAT!!!!  R40.



The Old Museum Merlot — Very berry-y.  NICE, for a Merlot.  There seemed to be quite a difference in SA Merlots.  I don’t normally like them but down there they are quite unique!  R50.


Stone Bridge Pinotage — Nice, light and smoky, oh yes.  R50.



The Churchyard Cabernet Sauvignon – Thick, chocolate, tobacco are the best notes to describe this one. R50.



Last but not least was a limited release.  The Franschhoek Vineyards Shiraz, cellar door exclusive, no info about it anywhere except on the tasting sheet.  “The Shiraz grapes for this wine are from one of the highest most rugged vineyard sites in Franschhoek with singular personality and expression that compelled our winemaker Richard Duckitt to go to great lengths to preserve the tremendous concentration and purity of fruit in this exemplary Franschhoek wine.” — ‘sweet’, thick and smooth. R100.

Mid-way through this tasting after everything was poured, lunch was served and we were able to take our glasses outside to enjoy some great food and drink in the amazing weather.